Caver trapped underground for two weeks

Last updated 07:32 20/06/2014
Reuters

A German researcher injured by a falling rock in Germany's deepest cave rises to the surface after two weeks. Gavino Garay reports.

Have you had a near-death experience?

Share your stories, photos and videos.
'Impossible' cave rescue
Getty Images Zoom
Rescue workers haul Johann Westhauser to the surface from the Riesending vertical cave.

Related Links

Free after two weeks trapped 'Impossible' cave rescue

Relevant offers

Europe

London mayoral race: Muslim frontrunner is target of a gutter campaign UK Labour's Sadiq Khan set to win London mayoral race After a nightmare in concentration camps, they say they lived the American Dream Diamond the size of a tennis ball could fetch more than $100 million Breakthrough in mystery of life: Two-week-old human embryos grown in lab Has Winston Peters scuppered David Carter's chances of London High Commissioner post? New security at Brussels Airport causes delays, missed flights Turkish legislators fight again over bill to strip immunity Sentence stays for breast implants boss Jets scrambled as UK plane alters course and goes quiet

After spending nearly two weeks underground, an injured German caver has been hauled out of the country's deepest cavern by a multinational rescue operation that involved more than 700 people.

Johann Westhauser, an experienced caver, had gone into the Riesending cave system in the Alps with two companions to carry out research and measurements. He was hit in the head during a June 8 rock fall while nearly 1,000 metres underground.

After lengthy preparations, rescue teams five days later began the arduous task of hauling him up through a labyrinth of narrow passages and precipitous vertical shafts.

Rescuers brought the 52-year-old the final 180 metres to the surface and immediately sent him to a hospital.

"A chapter of Alpine rescue history has been written here over the last 12 days," Bavarian mountain rescue chief Norbert Heiland said, adding that officials initially doubted whether a rescue was possible.

The rescue became a media event with multi-page spreads in German tabloids.

In all, 728 people from Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy and Croatia participated in the operation, operation director Klaus Reindl told reporters in nearby Berchtesgaden.

"Since the birth of caving, there have been only two incidents of this depth, complexity and difficulty," Italian rescuer Roberto Conti said.

A fit expert could climb from the accident site to the entrance in about 12 hours, but rescuers had to haul Westhauser on a stretcher. The cave entrance is on a mountainside, 1,800 metres above sea level.

Westhauser's condition has been described throughout as stable. Officials didn't elaborate, but Reindl said he "came through the rescue operation well."

Bavaria's top security official said he wants to make sure the highly publicised rescue doesn't attract "risk tourism." Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann advocated shutting the cave entrance to ensure it was accessed only by experts.

Ad Feedback

- AP

Special offers

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content